The Art of Spinning Yarn, a Museum Educator’s Ongoing Education

I started volunteering with the Gibbes almost five years ago after getting a master’s degree in art history. Since then I’ve worked on numerous projects in the curatorial department, helped with art camp one summer, and become a museum educator. While not at the museum, I work at a local stained glass studio, Blue Heron Glass, where I teach and create unique works of glass art.

Davidson Hall

Davidson Hall is the building our classroom was in, as seen from the Herb Garden Path.

I was able to combine my interests in art and education, including my obsessions with knitting and yarn, on my recent vacation to the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. I took a week-long spinning class (spinning yarn, not bicycles) with a good friend and we stayed at one of the school’s houses. Neither of us had ever spun yarn before, but we were both excited for the challenge. The school is located in the mountains in a small town called Brasstown, NC, very near the Georgia and Tennessee borders. They offer classes all year long and in many different topics like fiber arts (spinning, knitting, weaving, quilting, etc.), blacksmithing, pottery, writing, painting, woodturning, music, and other folk arts.

It was like stepping into a different time and onto a slightly different planet. Upon checking in, we learned that there were no keys to the rooms and while our linens were provided, we had to make our own beds. Meals were included with our board and all the dining was family-style where we served ourselves and bussed our own tables. It was camp for adults (although they welcome young ones to the school).  Much of the food was grown in the school’s gardens and they baked most of the bread there. There were numerous paths and trails on the grounds, and we enjoyed walking through the woods and fields of the school.

spinning class setup

Spinning Class shows our set-up with the wheels and fleece.

Our spinning instructor was from Boulder, CO and there were people from all across the country in our class. We started by discussing how to prepare a fleece directly from the sheep and moved on from there. Over the course of the week we spun yarn from five different breeds of sheep, cotton, silk and commercially available roving. We learned about different types of spinning wheels and even played a little with drop spindles. We played with hand carders, drum carders, long combs and all sorts of other tools that looked like torture devices. The most exciting and crazy thing we tried was spinning cotton thread directly from unprocessed cotton bolls. One afternoon we took an impromptu field trip to a local sheep farm.

Along with the classes they had activities in the evenings like demonstrations from other classes, a contra dance, and a concert on Friday night. Every morning there was “Morning Song,” a 30 minute session of blue grass music and storytelling. There was a fabulous craft shop just under the dining hall that featured goods made by various teachers at the folk school and a book room. Meal times were also a treat because we met interesting people from other classes. Some students were learning totally new skills, like us, while others were taking intermediate or advanced courses.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go back. It was such a pleasure to see so many dying arts and crafts alive and well at the folk school and I realized that there are so many other things I want to learn. I just need to figure out what to make with all my hand-spun yarn!

mountain beard

“Mountain Beard” shows my love of fleece!

Rebecca Heister, Museum Educator and Volunteer

1858 Prize Finalist Damian Stamer

1858 Prize Short List of Finalists

1858 Prize Short List of Finalists

On June 23, the Gibbes Museum of Art and Society 1858 announced the 2014 Short List of finalists for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. The 1858 Prize, awarded annually with a cash prize of $10,000, acknowledges an artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. Over 250 artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia submitted applications during this time period.

The seven artists selected for the 2014 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art short list are Jim Arendt, Sonya Clark, Andre Leon Gray, Jackson Martin, Jason Mitcham, Damian Stamer, and Stacy Lynn Waddell. We will profile the seven finalists in a series of blog posts to give readers an in-depth look into each finalist’s training, creative process, and inspiration. This week’s  blog post is written by UVA collections/curatorial intern, Bridget Bailey.

A native of Durham, North Carolina and current resident of Chapel Hill, painter Damian Stamer is transfixed with the antiquated southern landscape. After receiving his BFA from the University of Arizona, Stamer earned his MFA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He paints “places that would rather be left alone”:  barns, sheds, abandoned houses, and other vernacular structures of the rural south in a style that creates a tension between realism and abstraction. In these works he creates a sensation of both being visible and disappearing.

Stamer’s recent paintings are primarily black and white—placing them in dialogue with black and white photography—especially images of the south, (i.e. Walker Evans,) as well as printmaking. The artist’s decision to paint, as opposed to working in other media, seems necessary, delineated by the scenes he depicts, as he calls his brush “a fitting tool to translate secrets from a bygone era, too thick and murky to capture with ones and zeros.” Through varying his mark-making and textures, he creates moments of both richness and atmosphere, heavy with the history and stories of a place, which, Stamer says, he feels obligated to capture and bring into the foreign walls of the gallery.

Rummage by Damian Stamer

Rummage by Damian Stamer

His canvases are often big, sometimes multi-paneled or non-rectangular, allowing the viewer to enter into the space of his paintings with the afternoon light, (i.e. figure 1: “Rummage,” 2014.) The tires in “Patrick Rd. 8” (figure 2) evoke Allan Kaprow’s “Yard,” though the action in Stamer’s work is not just in the repeated circles of the tires but in the white tornado-like vortex that seems to dance across the undefined space. In some paintings, the barns are blatantly disappearing, records of their transience as marks upon the landscape, (figure 3: “New Sharon Church Rd.,” 2012.)

Patrick Rd 8 by Damian Stamer

Patrick Rd 8 by Damian Stamer

The space of Stamer’s paintings is haunting, as he subtly animates what has been abandoned and will soon be gone, pointing to the beauty of impermanence, the mortality of people and things and the tangible feeling of a place steeped in memory.

New Sharon Church Rd by Damian Stamer

New Sharon Church Rd by Damian Stamer

The Gibbes Museum of Art Receives $100,000 from The Henry Luce Foundation for the Re-installation of the Permanent Collection

The Gibbes Museum of Art has received a grant award in the amount of $100,000 from the prestigious Henry Luce Foundation for the reinstallation and reinterpretation of the permanent collection as part of the Gibbes renovation. The renovation will begin in early fall of 2014, and is designed to showcase the museum’s distinguished collection and afford a complete picture of American visual culture in the South from the early colonial era to the present. The Luce Foundation is committed to supporting the continued vitality of American art scholarship and programs, and this grant strengthens the Gibbes’ commitment to generating scholarship and exhibitions that promote a broad understanding of the dynamic role that the art of the South plays in the larger context of American and world art history.

Rendering of the Renovated Museum

Rendering of the Renovated Museum

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for the reinstallation of our collection. The highly regarded Henry Luce American Art program has supported significant projects including the reinstallation of the permanent collection at a number of museums, including the Andy Warhol Museum in 2014 and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2013. We are honored to be included in this selection of esteemed institutions,” says Gibbes Museum of Art Executive Director, Angela Mack.

The newly expanded and renovated galleries will provide a 30% increase in gallery space to showcase more than 600 works of art from the permanent collection (a 125% increase in works on view). The Grand Gallery, with its original Beaux Arts skylight, will showcase early American art of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In the newly expanded South Galleries, innovative display cases and open storage cabinetry will allow for up-close interaction with over three hundred portrait miniatures by some of America’s most significant miniature painters as well as a number of French émigré and British artists painting American sitters. The newly expanded North Galleries will feature several works that demonstrate the national shift in American art from academic painting to impressionism. While steeped in history, the Gibbes collection also reflects the artists and artistic styles representative of contemporary Southern art. The Garden Gallery will feature works by late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century artists native to the south or working in this region. The central rotunda gallery will serve as a sculpture hall.

Mary Roberts miniature

A miniature by Mary Roberts from our permanent collection. Unidentified sitter (possibly Sarah Wilkinson Middleton), ca. 1745. By Mary Roberts (American, ?-1761)Watercolor on ivory. Bequest of Mrs. Amelia Josephine Emanuel

 

“Gaining funding from a prestigious organization like the Luce Foundation is truly an honor. A chief goal of Luce is to support exemplary American art collections so their support and recognition is a real compliment to the significance of our permanent collection,” Says Sara Arnold Gibbes Museum of Art Curator of Collections.

Henry Luce Foundation – New York, New York

The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents who were missionary educators in China. The Foundation builds upon the vision and values of four generations of the Luce family: broadening knowledge and encouraging the highest standards of service and leadership.

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities.

Amy Mercecr, Marketing and Communications Manager

The 1858 Prize and One Artist’s Perspective

The Fireflies by John Westmark

The Fireflies by John Westmark

The 1858 Prize for Contemporary Art, formally the Factor Prize, is a beacon of light in what can feel like the dark shoals of the philanthropic art world. In 2012, I was fortunate to win the prize and reap the rewards of a cash infusion into my studio practice. The money was great while it lasted, but far greater was the shot of adrenaline to an immeasurable nod of validation.

Over the years, I’ve discussed the legitimacy of art awards in general, and the 1858 Prize in particular, with many colleagues and other artists who have asked my opinion. While I can’t speak to the legitimacy of all the myriad organizations that promote awards for artists, I can say without reservation that the 1858 Prize is the real thing in an era where “the real thing” is a complicated definition. The charge of the 1858 Prize is simple enough: to recognize and help artists who work in, or are from, the American South; and whose work contributes to a new understanding of the South. Two very important aspects of the prize are: one, the artist’s work does not need to reference the South or Southern subjects explicitly; and secondly, the prize is open to any media. All too often, calls to artists are grouped in rigid categories by medium, effectively fragmenting or disallowing outstanding work that bridges multiple disciplines. This is a pluralist time for artists, where material boundaries no longer matter. What the good people at the 1858 Prize are saying is that they are not only open to any form of expression – they are actively seeking it out.

The diverse mix of individuals and invested parties that make the arts an unrivaled ecosystem of expression benefit greatly from arbiters like the Gibbes Museum of Art and the 1858 Prize. So, if you’re an artist from the American South, I urge you to apply to this opportunity; if you’re a patron of the arts, I urge you to get involved with this organization; and if you’re a fan of the arts, I urge you to follow and revel in the discoveries of this organization.

John Westmark, artist and guest blogger

 

John Westmark and family

2012 Prize winner John Westmark with his family at the opening reception of his solo exhibition

John Westmark’s work is currently on exhibit at the Gibbes Museum of Art. Westmark’s work is exhibited widely and is held in collection worldwide. He holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from the University of Florida. In 2012, he received the Factor Prize for Southern Art, awarded by the Gibbes Museum. Westmark lives and works in Gainesville, Florida, with his wife and two daughters – the true inspiration behind his work.

The Gibbes Museum of Art and Society 1858 have announced the 2014 Short List of finalists
for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art.

1858 Prize Short List of Finalists

The seven artists selected are Jim Arendt, Sonya Clark, Andre Leon Gray, Jackson Martin, Jason Mitcham, Damian Stamer, and Stacy Lynn Waddell. The artists were selected by a distinguished panel of judges including Charles Ailstock, Society 1858 Board Member; Jamieson Clair, Society 1858 Board Member; Jennifer Dasal, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the North Carolina Museum of Art; Marilyn Laufer, Director of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University; Frank McCauley, Assistant Director and Curator of the Sumter County Gallery of Art; Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibition at the Gibbes Museum of Art; and John Westmark, artist and 2012 Prize winner.

The winner of the 1858 Prize will be announced on September 18 during an event hosted by Society 1858 and the Gibbes Museum of Art. Artists may submit applications for the 2015 1858 Prize January 1, 2015.

 

 

Summer Camp at the Gibbes!

According to the Arts Education Partnership which was created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education, every young person in America deserves a complete and competitive education that includes the arts. As the country becomes more diverse, the world more interconnected, and the workplace more oriented around technology and creativity, arts education is key to ensuring students’ success in school, work and life.

summer camp masks

Creative and colorful masks!

That’s why art education is central to the mission of the Gibbes Museum of Art. The museum offers a wide variety of educational opportunities throughout the year, and when school is out for the summer, we host six weeks of camp. This is one of my favorite times of the year because the campers are so excited to learn, and watching them engage with the art reminds me of the value of arts education.

Each camp session includes artist demonstrations, hands-on, and take-home projects using many different mediums and materials. This summer the themes include All About Animals, Exploring Nature, and Art Through the Ages for ages 4-12. Local artist Kristen Solecki has taught summer camp sessions for two years and works to impart her expertise to budding artists.

summer camp masks

Creative campers posing with their masks!

“This week at camp was all about animals! We learned about animal structure and anatomy as well as how to sketch and create our own animals. We started off the week with relief printmaking. We learned about printing editions, types of ink, and the effects of various types of mark making. On Tuesday, we created large scale 16×20 inch animal paintings on watercolor paper using acrylic paints and charcoal. We learned about drawing with gesture and the detail that goes into large scale work. On Wednesday, we started a two day project: sculpting animals using air dry clay. We learned about the coil method and how to stabilize this medium using different tools. On Friday, we are learning about the sgrafico method. We painted wood birch panels and coated them using oil pastels. We used stylus to scratch away our drawings,” explains Solecki.

summer campers

Summer campers deep in concentration!

Campers visit the museum galleries at least once during the week to learn about artwork from both the permanent collection, and the special exhibitions John Westmark: Narratives and Beyond the Darkroom: Photography in the 21st Century. Parents are invited to an art show every Friday to view the camper’s collection of work from the week and are encouraged to visit the museum at their leisure. Camp will end August 8, and currently that is the only week remaining with a few openings!

Rebecca Sailor, Curator of Education

To register, please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call Rebecca Sailor at 843.722.2706 x41

Reflections on Art and Healing

On June 2, artist John Westmark participated in a program at the Gibbes called Art of Healing. Over the past two years, the museum has hosted a number of programs that focus on the many ways that art connects with healing and wellness. This particular program entailed in depth discussions of several paintings on view in the exhibition John Westmark: Narratives, including a large-scale canvas titled Sisters.

SISTERS by John Westmark

Sisters, by John Westmark

For me, Sisters is a particularly powerful painting. The work depicts two women standing hand-in-hand, bound together by red string. They appear strong, resolute, and ready to take on the world. I connect with the painting because I am fortunate to have a sister who has been my lifelong best friend. In January 2013, my sister Angie was diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia. It was a devastating diagnosis, but I knew she would fight with every ounce of her being. It may sound cliché, but she is a warrior in every sense of the word, and has been since we were kids.

Angie's first day of kinder

Pam Wall and her big sister Angie

Shortly after Angie’s diagnosis, I began working on John’s exhibition. Sisters was one of the first paintings added to the object list. I worried about Angie constantly, but Sisters gave me a measure of reassurance. It reminded me that Angie was every bit as strong as the women in the painting, and I needed to be just as strong to help her through this battle. The red string held particular significance. Blood cancer was the enemy, but family bloodlines were ultimately what saved Angie’s life. In May 2013, she received a lifesaving stem cell transplant from our brother Chip.

I am thrilled that Angie’s story is now one of healing. She recently hit the one-year anniversary of her transplant, and life is slowly returning to normal. Whenever Angie is on my mind, I take a few minutes in the gallery with Sisters. The painting has helped me to cope over the past year and half, and reminds me of all I am thankful for. And as I raise two daughters of my own, I hope they will stand together like the sisters in John’s painting, ready to face the triumphs and challenges life has in store.

Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibitions

The Art Tells the Story

Q & A with Rice & Ducks author Virginia Christian Beach

Virginia Beach with Jonathan Green

Virginia Beach with Jonathan Green whose painting Rice Morning Harvest is featured in Chapter 9 of Rice & Ducks.

Q: What was the inspiration for this book?

Many people don’t know that Lowcountry South Carolina is considered a leader in land conservation in the United States.  We have more land permanently protected in our coastal plain—1.2 million acres—than any other East Coast state.  We are also extremely rich in wetlands and forestlands, two vital habitats for innumerable species of flora and fauna.  The story of how we came to be a national model in land conservation is unique, largely due to the fact that it is predicated on the grand and tragic and complex history of the rice culture, and the convergence and interaction between northerners and southerners after the Civil War.  What evolved here in the Lowcountry, what we today enjoy from a cultural and environmental standpoint, is unlike anywhere else.  We felt this was an important and interesting story, worthy of a beautiful book.

Q. Rice & Ducks includes interviews with experts and scholars in the fields of rice cultivation and plantation history, African-American studies, wetland and waterfowl biology, and wildlife and habitat conservation. Tell us about your experience conducting and sifting through these interviews-the research sounds extensive!

The project took three full years, from inception to publication.  I traveled up and down the rice coast of South Carolina, from the Pee Dee River down to the Savannah, with a digital recorder in one hand, pen and paper in the other, and a pair of binoculars around my neck.  I sought out landowners who had been active in the land conservation movement in their respective river basins, most of whom had already permanently protected their property with conservation easements, and whose families had either been here for many generations, or had arrived with the “second northern invasion” in the 1910s, 20s and 30s.

I also interviewed slave descendants, hunting guides and land managers, as well as field biologists, foresters and ornithologists — the people living and working closest to the land. RICE & DUCKS is as much a land use history, as it is a land conservation history.  One of many highlights included multiple conversations with a landowner, now in his 90s, whose great uncle had been a founding member of one of the earliest northern hunting clubs in the Lowcountry—the Okeetee Club in Jasper County—and who had wonderful memories of hunting here in the 1920s as a boy.  Another highlight was walking the slave street at Friendfield Plantation in Georgetown County, where First Lady Michelle Obama’s great-great grandfather was born and raised.  And lastly, walking the old rice field dikes of the Ashepoo River at dusk and watching thousands of waterfowl settling in for the night.  These are just a few of the many memorable experiences of my field research.

Q. Now to the art and how “The Art Tells a Story.” Tell us how you chose the images to accompany these stories. How and why was the Gibbes’ permanent collection important to this book?

After completing my research and the manuscript, I was tasked with curating the images for RICE & DUCKS, with the help of a Curatorial Committee that included Angela Mack, Executive Director of the Gibbes, who was an invaluable guide as you might imagine. During that first year of researching the text, I also made detailed notes of artwork, maps, and visuals that I was encountering along the way, which I thought would complement and enhance the RICE & DUCKS story visually.  When it came time to convene the Curatorial Committee, I created a master list of all the images I had noted, organized by chapter, and called it “A Working List of Potential Visuals.”  It was over 20 pages long!

Thankfully, Angela and Steve Gavel (another member of our committee) came up with the idea of choosing a work of art for the beginning of each of the 9 chapters — giving it a full page of its own —  that was representative of the overall theme of each chapter and was of the corresponding time period. This helped bring into focus and reinforce the major themes of RICE &DUCKS.

The Reserve in Summer

The Reserve in Summer by Alice R. H. Smith

The images serve both a historical purpose and an artistic and thematic purpose.  The adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” certainly holds true for the images in RICE & DUCKS.  In many instances, we simply did not have room to include sidebars and additional text on many important topics.  One good example of how a painting can convey so much more information than the written word is “The Old Plantation,” lent to us by Colonial Williamsburg.  With that one painting, we were able to convey much more about the history and uniqueness of the Gullah culture.  Similarly, Anna Heyward Taylor’s linoleum block print from the Gibbes collection, entitled “Sowing Rice,” powerfully illustrates the African roots of rice cultivation in the Lowcountry.  At the same time, Charles Fraser’s portrait miniature of Nathaniel Heyward, as well as Benjamin West’s portrait of Thomas Middleton — also from the Gibbes collection — beautifully express the aspirations and authority of the New World landed aristocracy.

Sowing Rice by Anna Heyward Taylor

Sowing Rice by Anna Heyward Taylor

Q. The proceeds from this book go toward protection of the northern breeding grounds and protection of migratory bird habitat in the Carolina Lowcountry. Can you tell us about this effort and why it is important?

You’ve heard the expression “the canary in the coal mine?”  Well, migratory birds — whether they be waterfowl (e.g.ducks and geese), wading birds (e.g. egrets and herons), shorebirds or warblers— are huge barometers of the health of our overall environment, since they rely on a multitude of habitats along their ancient, amazingly long flyways.  They are the great “connectors”—between continents, between nations, between habitats — breaking down political and cultural barriers as they embark on their transcontinental, cross-cultural journeys year after year after year.  For example, take the little sanderlings that you see on South Carolina beaches each spring and fall.  They nest in the high Arctic tundra and migrate through the Lowcountry every year, traveling thousands of miles on their annual migration between North and South America.  Many of these species absolutely depend on the healthy habitat of the South Carolina Lowcountry for their survival along the way.  And much of our wetlands are used by both waterfowl and wading birds and shorebirds.  Saving their habitat is good for them and good for us; nourishing humankind both physically and spiritually.

Virginia C. Beach, Author and Guest Blogger

The Art Tells the Story book signing and discussion with Virginia Christian Beach
Thursday, June 12, 12noon
$15 per person
You may pre-purchase books at the Museum Store
To purchase tickets please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call 843.722.2706 x21

Eye Spy Art!

Eye Spy Art

Eye Spy Art at North Charleston Arts Elementary

The Eye Spy program with the Gibbes Museum is one of the best experiences I’ve had so far as an art teacher. Rebecca Sailor, Curator of Education, contacted me about this great opportunity for my students. As a Charlestonian, I know the Gibbes Museum has a lot to offer for the community, and my students at North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary (NCCAE).
As a first year Art Teacher, I also took advantage of this program to gain insights on how to implement other core curriculum into my lessons such as Language Arts and Social Studies. The most exciting part was collaborating with the museum educator and taking my students to the Gibbes Museum for a field trip.

As an Art Educator, part of the mission that I stand by is to engage students in an art centered curriculum, which helps develop confidence in student’s work. I meet with museum educator Ellise Detterbeck to create an interactive lesson plan that is tied to the S.C. Learning Standards to meet my student’s goals for the school year. The Eye Spy program at the Gibbes Museum is great for the students for a variety of reasons. Ms. Elise is a wonderful museum educator who visits my third grade students and Hearing Impaired students once a month at North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary. My students enjoy talking about art and want to know more. Ms. Elise encourages my students to express their opinions, feelings, and to make presumption as they participate in these exercises.
Elise agrees and says,

“The Hearing Impaired students were such a surprise. They are all quite engaging, and so eager to explore art. They are strong and silent! They notice things regular students don’t, and respond to any art, but especially to abstract art. I wear a microphone for 2 of the students who use hearing aids. There is an interpreter who signs what I say. It’s amusing to talk and to have the students looking at her, instead of me. They all sign and speak their responses. I was told by the interpreter and Janell not to change my presentations for them in any way, including the songs. They can FEEL the beat in music, and make an effort to keep time to it.
I love new experiences, and this one was very special. For these students, self-expression is key to their development, and responding to art helps them express their feelings. The crazier the art may seem, the more they like it. It’s so rewarding to see them wave their hands around and bounce up and down to a new piece of art. Next year, Janell and I intend to customize what we do for them, so we can maximize the impact of Eye-Spy! with them.”

The field trip to the museum gave students a chance to learn more about the wonderful artwork. Students who had never been to an art museum were excited and surprised by the size of the paintings that we discussed in class. It was a joy to see them raising their hands and wanting to know more about the artwork.

Designs, Wrightsville Beach, by Minnie Evans

Designs, Wrightsville Beach, by Minnie Evans, a favorite work of Elise’s to teach for organic shapes, color and composition)

“Our big idea for this program is that after a year in Eye-Spy!, a student will be able to look at a piece of art, tell us what he/she sees, and explain why he likes it or doesn’t like it, and provide support other than “it’s pretty” or “it’s ugly.” The visits to the museum is HUGE! Students get continuity and reinforcement. All the Museum Educators have said that kids coming from the Eye-Spy! program have so much to say about the art at the Gibbes. Each Eye-Spy! Museum Educator does it differently, but we all seem to get similar results,” adds Elise.

I’m grateful to have the Eye Spy program to help elementary students look at and talk about art. This program has given students a better understanding of the elements of art, such as: line, shapes, color, texture, and pattern. Through this program, I am able to learn with the students about utilizing many disciplines from language arts to music. My favorite song that we learned was about the artist Romare Bearden. What a great way to focus on the common core!
The biggest rewards of the Eye Spy program have been watching my students enjoy learning about art history and exploring the Gibbes Museum. I am looking forward for the next school year, and my students are looking forward to their next visit to the Gibbes Museum.

Janell Walker, Art Teacher, North Charleston Creative Arts Elementary
and Guest Blogger

Mickey Bakst, 2014 James S. Gibbes Philanthropy Award Winner

Mickey Bakst

Angela Mack presenting Mickey Bakst with the 2014 James Shoolbred Gibbes Philanthropy Award at the Annual Meeting.

On Monday, May 19, the Gibbes Museum of Art presented Mickey Bakst with the 2014 James Shoolbred Gibbes Philanthropy Award at the museum’s Annual Meeting Celebration. Mickey has long been a supporter of the Gibbes, and has contributed his time, talents, connections, and energy into making the Street Party one of Charleston’s most sought-after events. Mickey is known for his graciousness, generosity, and ability to connect people, and these traits directly translate to the complex job of coordinating Charleston’s top restaurants and beverage providers for this fundraising event. “We are so grateful to have Mickey Bakst on our side. We have just wrapped up another successful Street Party, and couldn’t have done it without his support,” says Executive Director Angela Mack.

James Shoolbred Gibbes

A portrait of James Shoolbred Gibbes

James S. Gibbes Philanthropy Award – Each year the Board and staff of the CAA bestows on an individual or group the James S. Gibbes Philanthropy Award. Gibbes was deeply devoted to the betterment of Charleston’s young creative minds in the aftermath of Reconstruction. Through his 1885 bequest of $100K, which in today’s dollars is valued at $2.5M, Gibbes launched what we know today as the Gibbes Museum of Art.  His generosity and vision set the state for the visual arts in Charleston by providing the funds to build the oldest art museum in the South.

Mickey Bakst has been a staunch proponent of Charleston charities since moving to the Holy City in October 2004. A 40-year food and beverage veteran, Bakst is currently General Manager of Charleston Grill at Charleston Place Hotel. In his spare time, Bakst can be found devoting his energy to a variety of Lowcountry initiatives. His philanthropic efforts include Chefs Across America in 2002, Benefit for Katrina in 2005, and Dine for Nine in 2007. Chefs Across America followed the tragedy of 9/11 and in this event, Mickey hosted dinners in nine cities across the country with 40 of the nation’s top culinary stars. The Dine for Nine in 2007 raised more than 500,000 for the fallen firefighters’ families of the Sofa Super Store fire. When Crisis Ministries had to close down their food service one day a week, Bakst stepped in, forming a coalition to provide the meals that the shelter needed. One day a week, every year, a different area restaurant takes over the meal service and feeds more than 400 people. Three years later, Feed the Need has gone national, launching in Detroit, MI and Savannah, GA. Mickey has been married to the love of his life, Ellen, since 2007.

Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager

The Beauty of the Gibbes vs. Google

From bacon art to intricate batiks, the varied collection of art at the Gibbes Museum is truly a Charleston treasure. On April 17, seventh grade students at Ashley Hall got an exceptional chance to train at the Gibbes to become Junior Docents for a day. We explored the exhibition known as The Charleston Story, selected from over 10,000 artworks in the Gibbes collection, of which only 2% are actually on display at any given time. These cultural masterpieces provide a thought-provoking insight into Charleston’s rich history.

Sarah Remembered by Leo Twiggs

Sarah Remembered by Leo Twiggs

The most interesting part to me is the fact that every single art piece has a story behind it. As Junior Docents, we had the opportunity to learn about various artworks from museum docents, and to choose artworks we thought were the most interesting. I found Sarah Remembered, by Leo Twiggs to be particularly eye-catching. This is a batik that Twiggs created in memory of his great-grandmother Sarah. Batik is the art of using black ink on silk and pouring wax on the places you don’t want the ink. Twiggs’ great-grandma, Sarah was born into slavery and released at the age of seven. Unfortunately, Twiggs never had the chance to meet her, but he recalls always being interested in her life and in his own background in slavery. Because of this, he decided to capture the essence of Sarah in a batik. I love this art work because of all of the symbolism and personal meaning within it. It showcases a huge part of Charleston’s history, the struggle to eliminate slavery.

As a class, we saw many other riveting works and listened intently to the presentation styles of the museum docents. We learned a lot about different art mediums and various artists’ motivation, as well as how to engage, educate, and entertain a crowd. On April 24, we presented our artwork of choice to a group of parents, teachers, and first grade Ashley Hall students. We encouraged the younger children to use their senses to detect art mediums and understand what colors popped out, as well as the different painting techniques of the artists. Everyone involved marveled at the one-of-a-kind artworks housed at the Gibbes Museum.

Ashley Hall Junior Docent presentations

Ashley Hall Junior Docents presenting to their classmates

In this day in age, it’s easy to skip the trip to the museum and simply look at pictures of art on the internet, but nothing compares to viewing them in real life. Art on Google is purely one-dimensional, and you can’t examine the texture and minimal details of the work that you can in person. Plus, if I’m being honest, wandering around an art museum looking at all the different collections is much more fun than sifting through Google images. So next time you’re looking for a cultural Charlestonian experience, try the Gibbes instead of Google!

Ashley Hall blog2

Katherine Mundy, Ashley Hall Junior Docent and Guest Blogger (pictured at the far left)

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